Soothsea, Hampshire born centre half Jimmy Allen began his football career with Poole Central in 1926 and played for Poole Town from 1927 before signing for First Division Portsmouth for £1,200 in July 1930. He made his Football League debut at Birmingham in January 1931, soon establishing himself in the Pompey first eleven, being ever present in 1931-32 and missing one game only in 1932-33. Such was his form that he was called into the England squad and won two caps for England, making his debut in a 3-0 win over Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast in October 1933, and playing in a 2-1 defeat to Wales at St James’ Park, Newcastle the following month. He also made two appearances for The Football League.
He made 145 appearances, scoring once, before joining Aston Villa for a British record transfer fee of £10,775 in June 1934 having been a member of Pompey’s FA Cup Final team that lost 2-1 to Manchester City at Wembley two months earlier, with Allen picking up an injury during the game. He was unable to help the club avoid relegation from the First Division in 1936, but captained the side to the Second Division Championship in 1938. scoring 3 goals in 163 appearances for Villa up to the outbreak of the Second World War.
He was forced to retire due to injury in 1944 after playing wartime football for a variety of clubs including Birmingham City, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Luton Town, Portsmouth and Southampton, where he made eight appearances. He became manager of Colchester United in July 1948, whom he led from the Southern League into the Football League in 1950, eventually leaving them in May 1953 after three seasons in the Third Division (South).